A Local Business Called Cracker Barrel

16 Dec

Yesterday, my wife and I had lunch at Cracker Barrel. Since that chain has over 600 stores in 42 states, thousands of people across the country did the same thing. However, it was a little different for us.

In 1969, Cracker was founded in our town of Lebanon, Tennessee. Dan Evins owned a Shell gas station at one of the interstate exits and hit upon the idea of selling to food attract customers. It was not just any food. It was good old southern food like grits, turnip greens and biscuits.Cracker Barrel

Obviously, the concept proved successful.

I write all of to explain that going to Cracker Barrel in Lebanon is more like going to a locally owned place than a nationwide chain. As soon as we walked in the door, we saw people that we know.

While waiting for a table, we saw my dad’s childhood friend and his wife. They mentioned that they sold one of their farms to one of our county officials, who happened to be standing behind them. That led to a great conversation that people who had gotten off the interstate probably did not understand.

After getting a table, we talked to the corporate pilot for Cracker Barrel, who is also a part-time preacher. In fact, he performed a wedding that turned into a blog post.

Before finishing our meal, the mother of a former girlfriend was seated next to us. She stopped for a few seconds before sitting down with some family from out-of-town.

The corporate headquarters of Cracker Barrel are located in town, and it employs a lot of local people. However, the leadership is no longer local. They all came in from somewhere else, and many of them live in another Nashville suburb. That does not matter. Cracker Barrel remains a Lebanon, Tennessee business.

Years ago, I was in Montana doing historical research. I was driving down the interstate and looking for something to eat. Up ahead, there was a sign for a Cracker Barrel. I pulled in at a strange eating time and was the only customer in the place. The manager came over to talk and asked where I was from. I said that I was from Lebanon, Tennessee and asked if he knew where that was.

He absolutely knew where it was because Cracker Barrel is one of our local businesses.

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11 Responses to “A Local Business Called Cracker Barrel”

  1. Marilyn Armstrong December 16, 2015 at 03:32 #

    Lebanon sounds more like our little town than Boston. Except none of our local places have become national chains. And we don’t have a Cracker Barrel, though it could only be an improvement over most of our local eateries 🙂

    • Rick December 16, 2015 at 04:11 #

      If you get a chance you should try it out. It’s not as good as homemade southern food, but it’s a decent facsimile.

      • Marilyn Armstrong December 16, 2015 at 04:58 #

        I’ll have to see if there are any in this region at all. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one, but i wasn’t looking …

  2. Andrew Petcher December 16, 2015 at 08:58 #

    It has a good website too. In the UK Cracker Barrel means a brand of cheese. Interesting to read that that Kraft and Cracker Barrel restaurants have been in recent dispute about the use of the name.

    • Rick December 16, 2015 at 13:53 #

      Yeah. It’s been an issue since the restaurant tried to expand into grocery stores.

  3. thehistorytourist December 16, 2015 at 11:44 #

    My husband and I love Cracker Barrel. It’s our go-to place along long stretches of highway. We joke that we should start a “Our Journey to every Cracker Barrel in the US” blog.

    • Rick December 16, 2015 at 13:56 #

      It’s a place that you always know will be good. Unfortunately, the original location no longer exists. I’ve never understood why they let that happen.

      • sittingpugs December 16, 2015 at 22:26 #

        Did the original location turn into something else? Or, is the actual building no longer there and has been reclaimed by nature or a parking lot?

        There are a number of Cracker Barrels in my state. I remember seeing billboards on the highway with a picture of a barrel.

      • Rick December 17, 2015 at 14:57 #

        There have been other businesses there through the years. The building is abandoned now.

  4. jcalberta December 18, 2015 at 16:14 #

    Looks like my kind of place Rick. Good to see some things are still around.

    • Rick December 19, 2015 at 02:07 #

      It’s good eats.

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